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Does the R.A.N need an Aircraft carrier?

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posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 04:32 AM
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The problem would be the need for more than one. The carriers have to spend some time each year in port for maintanance and resupply. Not to mention that periodicaly they need a major overhaul. With just one carrier, it would be in port alot of the time reducing effective time it could be projecting power.

With China showing an increase in blue water activity and possibly deploying a carrier of its own, they may want a counterweight of sorts of thier own.




posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 06:37 AM
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Originally posted by Kano
Yeah a carrier would be nice, but largely irrelevant for the typical role of the R.A.N, border control and assisting in peacekeeping operations in the pacific. Where a carrier really would be too much.

It may have been possible to make use of a Carrier during the invasion of Iraq, but there was no shortage of them in the region. It really would have just been coming along for the ride. Considering the cost/upkeep of a full blown carrier, there are cheaper more flexible options open to the RAN.


Correct me if Im wrong but isnt Aust taking on more roles outside of her own borders? e.g Iraq this trend will continue Wouldnt a carrier be useful in the pacfic given that many of the smaller nations are Vulnerable to terrorism.



posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 06:43 AM
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Originally posted by FredT
The problem would be the need for more than one. The carriers have to spend some time each year in port for maintanance and resupply. Not to mention that periodicaly they need a major overhaul. With just one carrier, it would be in port alot of the time reducing effective time it could be projecting power.

With China showing an increase in blue water activity and possibly deploying a carrier of its own, they may want a counterweight of sorts of thier own.


Another good reason the RAN should accuire a carrier. Im sure the yanks would lease us a carrier given all the support Aust has given to the war on terrorism.



posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 06:57 AM
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Originally posted by FredT
The problem would be the need for more than one. The carriers have to spend some time each year in port for maintanance and resupply. Not to mention that periodicaly they need a major overhaul. With just one carrier, it would be in port alot of the time reducing effective time it could be projecting power.

With China showing an increase in blue water activity and possibly deploying a carrier of its own, they may want a counterweight of sorts of thier own.


The smart thing would be that the NZ would operate a flat top so the two ships could rotate for maintanance. However I think the NZ Navy would struggle to make up the numbers in terms of personal and the NZ government dosnt care much for defense.



posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 07:04 AM
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which all brings us back to the glaringly obvious fact that there will be three surplus carriers AND their entire compliment of Sea Harriers available fairly soon from the UK



posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 01:39 PM
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Originally posted by xpert11
The smart thing would be that the NZ would operate a flat top so the two ships could rotate for maintanance. However I think the NZ Navy would struggle to make up the numbers in terms of personal and the NZ government dosnt care much for defense.


So Aus, foots the bill for NZ's defence? Kind of like our Canada eh



posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 01:47 PM
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Originally posted by xpert11
Another good reason the RAN should accuire a carrier. Im sure the yanks would lease us a carrier given all the support Aust has given to the war on terrorism.


I tried to find how many carriers the USN has mothballed, but could not find any data. However, I did come across an article that talked about the USN wanting to keep the COnstelation active even after the launch of the USS Reagan and maybe taking a 14th carrier out of mothballs. The only problem with leasing a big carrier is the planes needed to equip it and the 5000 sailors to run it, would eat up a HUGE amount of the AUS defence budget. Better to get a Invinciable Class Ship IMHO....



posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 01:59 PM
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Originally posted by xpert11
Wouldnt a carrier be useful in the pacfic given that many of the smaller nations are Vulnerable to terrorism.

I wouldn't think so, a carrier isn't going to be all that useful in fighting terrorism. That'd be trying to do surgery with a broadsword, defending against terrorism is intel and people on the ground. Air supremacy doesn't stop suicide bombers.



posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 11:41 PM
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Originally posted by FredT

Originally posted by xpert11
The smart thing would be that the NZ would operate a flat top so the two ships could rotate for maintanance. However I think the NZ Navy would struggle to make up the numbers in terms of personal and the NZ government dosnt care much for defense.


So Aus, foots the bill for NZ's defence? Kind of like our Canada eh
no the carrier would belong the NZ navy and they would foot the bill for its upkeep.



posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 02:16 AM
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On the topic of Australian Aircraft Carriers.

I will address the question of whether the RAN should be operating carriers at a later date. But first I would like to give you a potted history of the RAN - FAA Operations since its birth.

Prior to that aircraft aboard ships of the RAN had been operated by the RAAF, first with No.101 (Naval Co-Operation) Flight, then with 9 (Naval Co-Operation) Squadron. They operated Fairey IIID floatplanes, then Seagull II, III and IV/Walrus Amphibians. In 1928 HMAS Albatross, an Australian built Seaplane Tender was operated on and off until 1938, when she was transferred to the RN in part payment for the light cruiser HMAS Hobart. From then until 1944 they served on board six of the RANs seven cruisers - HMA Ships Australia, Canberra (lost 42) Perth (lost 42) Sydney (lost 41) Hobart and Shropshire. After this time thier role was taken over by radar. HMAS Australia was the last Commonwealth Cruiser to carry an amphibian afloat. A number were war losses, and achieved some minor distinctions. In several instances in the North African campaign they operated in the unintented role of fighter-bombers against negligable Italian opposition in the early months of that campaign. In British Somaliland one RAN/RAAF Walrus was the "Air Force"!

Most post war were placed in storage although a couple were used by the RAN/RAAF for the first post war Antarctic missions. One was wrecked ashore in the storm, and this example was recovered for the RAAF Museum in the 1980s and is currently under restoration.

Several Vought Kingfisher float planes were operated by the RAAF and one was embarked for an Antarctic Op aboard the HMAS Whyatt Earp. The ship had previously been used pre war for US polar exploration, and was an auxilary stores ship in the RAN in WW2. She was returned to trade breifly post war before being aqquired for the initial Australian Polar trips. The Kingfisher was stored as partly dismantled deck cargo, taking up over a third of the available length. The Earps commission was brief.

The amphibians were painted "Trainer Yellow" on polar missions.

During the war attempts were made to acquire a carrier. In 1942 efforts were on the verge of success with the RNs elderly HMS Hermes earmarked for transfer. She was sunk by a massed Japanese carrier strike (along with her lone RAN destroyer escort) south of Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

In 1944 Churchill instructed the Admiralty in London to offer the RAN a Colossus class light carrier, along with two Tiger class cruisers and six destroyers, all presently under construction in the UK. The Australian Government declined the offer, although both the RAN and the RN discussed variations of the offer, but manning was always the issue.

Australia had missed its first opportunity at a freebie.

RAN Fleet Air Arm operations commenced under the auspices of an Australian Labour Government in 1948 with the opening of NAS Albatross.Shore based training was initially done with ex-RAAF Wirraway and Tigermoth trainers and Spitfire Mk.VIIIs. Support was provided by a handlful of Austers and the first of four Dakotas.

Post war the DoD assessment was favourable to acquirring two of the incomplete Majestic class light carriers. The RN was prepared to sell them to the RAN two for one . However the Labour government cabinet debate lasted almost a year by which time the UK governments attitude had changed. The carriers were obtained at full cost, the price of one writing off the RNs wartime bill for the use of Australian facilities.

Two Majestic Light Fleet Carriers were purchased to allow one carrier to be in operation at all times. HMAS Sydney was completed as a straight deck carrier and delivered that year. While HMAS Melbourne was delayed by modifications to incorporate steam catapults, arrester gear, mirror landing system and angled flight deck for jet operations and did not arrive in Australian waters until 1956.

During the Korean War HMAS Sydney did two patrols. On the First her Hawker Sea Fury Fighters and Fairey Fireflies bombers carried out airstrikes against NK and Chicom forces and LOC. Several Soviet supplied piston fighters were shot down, and a RAN Sea Fury successfully shot down a MiG-15. She arrived for her second tour in time to do an Armistice Patrol after the ceasefire in 1953. On the first cruise she initially carried two Supermarine Sea Otters, the final variant of the Seagull/Walrus family. Later a pair of Sikorsky S-51s seconded from the USN were used for SAR including the rescue of a downed Sea Fury pilot under fire from Chicom positions inland.

NAS Nirimba at Schofields Victoria was opened to be the RANs Flight Training Establishment. However the expected rate of Deck Landing accidents did not eventuate and the Government used this as an excuse to close the Air Station a year later. HMAS Nirimba continued as RAN school until the 1980s.

In the interim a Colossus Class carrier HMAS Vengence was loaned by the RN in 1953 to allow the Fleet Air Arms training and work up program to be completed on time. She was returned in 1955 and her crew transfered to HMAS Melbourne to do work ups in UK waters.

HMAS Melbourne operated Fairey Gannet ASW aircraft and DeHavilland Sea Venom "All Weather "Fighter Bombers plus two Bristol Sycamores for SAR Helo Ops.

In the meantime the Australian Government (by now the Liberals) experience with the lengthy rebuild of the HMAS Melbourne (nigh on ten years) had deterred them from undertaking a similar refit with the unmodified HMAS Sydney. The carrier reduced to training duties with HMAS Melbournes arrival and in 1958 she was laid up in Reserve.

The Government further determined to cease fixed wing operations by 1963 and determined to operate HMAS Melbourne as a helecopter equiped ASW Carrier. To this end they ordered 27 Westland Wessex HAS.31 ASW Helecopters.

Next; The 1960s.

[edit on 5-10-2004 by craigandrew]



posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 02:53 AM
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IMO, Australia definitely needs several aircraft carriers. They're in the middle of a bunch of unstable countries. Especially with China looking foward to adding to her fleet several more.

It's better to "get them there" than to "wait for them to get here!"

I vote a big, fat YES!



posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 06:38 AM
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Originally posted by FredT
Funny I was just pondering that question last night. The big question is does Australia need to project force beyond the range of its airforce? Currently it doeas not. Carriers are a huge expense as well.


A years or so ago Howard (little so and so) said publicly that Austrailia wanted to be like the US and act as the Police of the pacific region, so there would be a need to have a carrier. How else are you going to bomb the 3rd world into the 4th.



posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 07:17 AM
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See the thing with the Australian defence forces (or at least up untill the iraq screwup) is that their main purpose was for peacekeeping and some covert / behind the line ground based operations. As such our main requirement is highly trained soldiers, and not so much air force or navy. To my limited knowledge that's always how Australia has worked. We're a "grunt" based military, not air or naval.

So there really isn't a need for a huge big warship / aircraft carrier... although it would be amusing to pull up next to an illegal fishing boat in a "floating fortress".

Are you feeling lucky, punk?



posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 05:40 PM
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At the start of the 1960s shore based flight training was now conducted with De Havilland Vampire Jet Trainers. Surviving Sea Furies and Fireflies were used for support roles such as target towing and base hacks.

In 1962 the HMAS Sydney was recommissioned after a dockyard refit which converted her to a Fast Transport. She was essentially now a Commando Carrier to use RN parlance.

She was fitted with four LCM6 on davits, and two heavy deck cranes for loading over the side. She could carry an Infantry Battalion and most of its equipment. She could deploy with RAN Wessex, but more often carried Army vehicles as deck cargo, and used her flight deck to transfer stores and personnel to shore by helecopter.

Between 1964 and 1972 HMAS Sydney did about two dozen trips between Australia and Vung Tau South Vietnam (acquiring the nickname "the Vung Tau Ferry")

In the meantime the Liberal Government (They held office from 1949 to 1972) ignored its earlier announcement to scrap the fix wing element of the FAA. The HMAS Melbourne continued to operate Sea Venoms and Gannets, plus Wessex ASW. In 1965 the Government announced the order of 8 Douglas A-4G & 2 TA-4G Skyhawk fighter bombers, plus 16 S-2E Tracker ASW aircraft, to replace its 1950s era British aircraft.

They were delivered in 1967 and between 1968 and 1969 HMAS underwent a refit to allow her to operate the heavier aircraft. A repeat order for another 10 Skyhawks was made and these were delivered in 1971.

During this period two tragedies occurred. In the early 1960s during night operations off Jervis Bay NSW, the HMAS Melbourne and the Daring class Destroyer HMAS Voyager collided. Voyager had cut across the bow of the carrier too closely, and been cut in two and sank with heavy loss of life.

Bizzarely, later in the 1960s HMAS Melbourne again sank a destroyer in collision. This time it was the USS Frank E Evans, a FRAM II Gearing Class Destroyer in night operations in the South China Sea, in similar circumstances.

Despite evidence in both cases demonstrating the destroyers were responsible for the collisions, in the Australian media HMAS Melbourne acquirred the unfair reputation as a "jinx" ship (in the late 1970s HMAS Melbourne was tied up alongside in Sydney when it received minor damage from two passing ships which had collided and been carried into her. Front page headlines stated the "HMAS Melbourne hits Ships on Harbour"!!)

On several occassions during this time HMAS Melbourne escorted HMAS Sydney to Vietnam. HMAS Melbourne was also part of the Commonwealth Far Eastern Strategic Reserve and a regular participant in exercises with other SEATO allies.

At this time, besides the carriers the only other RAN ship carrying aircraft was the HMAS Morseby, the new Hydrographic Survey Ship, which was equiped with a hangar for a light helecopter. Two Westland Scouts were acquired for this role.

In Vietnam, an RAN detachment operated for several years with the US Army. EMU Flight RAN flew US Army Hueys as part of a Army Helecopter Battalion. At one stage following the wounding of the US CO, the RAN Lt.Commander of EMU found himself commanding the US Battalion for some time.

During this time, seven UH-1Bs were aqquired to fly support and SAR missions by the RAN, flying our of NAS Albatross, Nowra NSW. The survivors were scrapped in the early 1980s.

At the close of the 1960s, the Australian and UK governments,and thier respective naval staffs had conducted talks with a view to the RAN acquirring the HMS Hermes, to ensure the RAN could keep one carrier in operation year round (Hermes was much larger than the Majestics and had been fitted for conventional jet operations at the time). The talks fell through, and Hermes went on to be a Commando Carrier then a Harrier carrier with the RN.

Next; the 1970s.



posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 07:07 PM
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At the start of the 1970s shore based training was undertaken by ten Aermacchi MB326 jet trainers. They were supported by the Dakotas, Wessex, UH-1s and Scouts, plus a few Gannets. By the end of the decade three Kiowas replaced the Scouts and a pair of HS 748s replaced the Daks.

HMAS Stalwart, an Australian built Destroyer Tender, was commisioned, and capable of hangaring two Wessex. for Vert Rep Ops.

In 1971 as our involvement in Vietnam wound down, HMAS Sydney underwent a much needed refit. She then did one more trip to Vietnam in 1972 to bring back the bulk of the remaining Army personnel and equipment.

In 1973 HMAS Sydney was scheduled to enter dry dock for a major overhaul and upgrade. Shortly after the defeat of the Liberals at the Federal elections, Gough Whitlams Labour Government changed policy. They saw no role for her in thier plans for a post Vietnam Navy. Despite Navys arguments, the crew was advised that instead of the refit, HMAS Sydney would decomission and be prepared for sale as scrap. By the end of the year her hulk was waiting at the Reserve Fleet anchorage for sale.

HMAS Melbourne had a chequered decade being involved in a number of excercises and showing the flag around the Region. At this point Australia had the strongest regional navy, and was the only one operating a carrier. In the West Indian ocean, the Indian Navy operated HMAS Melbournes sister ship, the INS Vikarant, with 1950s vintage Seahawk fighters and Alize turboprop ASW planes.

On the down side, she lost several Skyhawks in training accidents,including deck launches or landings, and at least one Wessex had ditched.

On Christmas Eve 1974, Tropical Cyclone Tracey devestated Darwin, in Australia's far north. It had taken the public and authorities totally by surprise, having been considered no threat the day before. Nearly all Darwins 60,000 residents were homeless. Dozens were dead or missing, and hundreds injured. Water, power, sewerage and communications were knocked out, the port and airport facilities almost destroyed. The few roads into the region were cut for hundreds of miles by flooding. There was a high risk of disease,and evacuation was seen as the only response.

A number of ships were sunk or damaged in the port and nearby waters. One Attack Class Patrol Boat was left high and dry. Its sister ship was sunk and destroyed, its wreck located by RAN divers wedged under a shoreside dock.

The entire RAN was mobilised, including the carrier HMAS Melbourne. Units began sailing from thier East Coast bases on the 26th December carrying relief supplies. The one ship the RAN possessed that had been fitted out for just such an operation, was not available. HMAS Sydney, stripped of her cranes, landing craft davits, and her machinery, was an anchored hulk in Sydney Harbour. Although the RAN performed admirably in the relief and subsquent temporary evacuation of Darwin, there was criticism that the effort would have been far more effective if HMAS Sydney had been available.

The Whitlam Government was dismissed by the Governor General in 1975 in controversial circumstances. Malcolm Frasers Liberals were appointed as the caretaker government pending new elections, which the subsequentially won.

Whitlams government had scrapped plans to build ten locally designed air capable destroyers, and instead ordered two Perry Class FFGs from the USA. The Fraser government had ordered an additional two units, with an option on six more (only a further two units were built locally)

Frasers government also ordered 10 new Westland Sea King HAS.51 for the HMAS Melbourne, delivered in 1977. Several were lost, including at least one ditching off HMAS Melbourne. two follow ons were ordered as replacements, and the seven survivors still serve in the support role today, even those these are numbered with the pending delivery of new NH90s.

In 1977 There was a disasterous fire in a hangar at NAS Albatross. The fire had deliberately been lit by a disgruntled rating. It destroyed twelve S-2Es, almost the entire available Tracker ASW force of the RAN. The Government made an immediate decision to replace the aircraft. HMAS Melbourne was dispatched to San Diego, California to collect sixteen surplus USN S-2Gs and brought them back as deck cargo, dropping off another S-2G,an F-4 and a CH-46 at Pearl Harbour on the way home as a favour to the USN.

A Heavy Landing Ship, HMAS Tobruk was ordered. She was a modified RFA "Sir Belivedere class LLS. She was commissioned in 1980. She provided a useful Sealift (compared to almost none) but was slow and had limited air ops potential.

In 1977 The Fraser Government announced a study committee to consider the future replacement of the HMAS Melbourne. Contenders were a modified Invincible class ship, a new build modified Iwo Jima, a Tarrawa or the USNs rejected SCS concept (among others)

HMAS Melbourne was begining to experience problems at this stage. Both the Whitlam and Fraser governments had only approved limited, generally cosmetic refit work to be done in the previous years, and she was being overworked in local and overseas exercises. In the space of just a couple of years HMAS Melbourne lost several Skyhawks as a result of catapult malfunctions. She entered the 1980s under a cloud.

Next; the 1980s.



posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 08:49 PM
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The RAN entered the 80's decade with UH-1s, Kiowas, and surviving Wessex providing mainly shore based support. The 748s were providing EW ECM training to the fleet, while the surviving Macchis did advanced shore based pilot training.

HMAS Melbournes Skyhawk ops were curtailed due to problems with the steam catapult. She continued to operate Trackers, Sea Kings and Wessexes.

The first of the Perrys, known as the Adelaide Class in RAN service, entered commission. They were initially trialled with the overly large Sea Kings,and the overly small Kiowas and UH-1s. HMAS Tobruk (LSH) demonstrated the ability to lift a great number of Wessex helecopters, unfortunately as partially dismantled cargo. Her normal air ops consisted of one helecopter, but no hangar facilities.

In 1981 HMAS Melbourne received a minor refit to repair the steam catapult. She was recertified for Skyhawk ops, but schedules for a major refit in 1982, including the replacement of the catapult system.

In 1981 it was also announced that the preferred option for the HMAS Melbournes replacement was a modified design of the Iwo Jima assault ship. Negotiations were commenced with a US Shipyard to build the ship.

By Febuary 1982 however, everything had changed. The UK Government announced major cuts in defence. The RN stood to loose a third of her fleet, including the Harrier carrier HMS Invincible. It had been decided one up up one down cycles were justifiable and sustainable, and the RN would make do with the two newest carriers. On a visit to meet his opposite number in the UK at the time, the Fraser governments Defence Minister, Jim Killen, announced the Australian Government had accepted a UK offer to sell them HMS Invincible at a fraction of its value. One of the more obscure items in the cuts were intended deletion of a small Ice Patrol Ship HMS Endurance, stationed at a largely forgotten outpost know as the Falkland Islands.

On his return home, Killen announced that the refit of HMAS Melbourne was cancelled. She would be decommissioned on June 30,1982 pending the transfer of HMS Invincible to the RAN. This would release her crew for training in the UK prior to the HMS Invincibles refit for Australian service. Invincible was scheduled to commission into the RAN in 1985.

On April 1, 1982 Argentine Forces invaded the Falkland Islands. They (the BA Junta) had taken the announcement of the HMS Endurance's intended withdrawl as a sign England was indifferent to the fate of the islands. They thought the other cuts announced would already be affecting the UKs ability to respond. There would be no military response, and they would weather the diplomatic storm and keep Las Malvinas. As the USAs "key"(??) Latin American ally against Communism, they thought the USA would remain politically neutral at worst. They also thought they were running out of time domestically to win the favour of the BA "Mob". This was the time to do it, they invaded.

Boy were they wrong.

A two month war, heavy casualties in men, aircraft and ships. They lost the islands back to Britain, they got dumped and jailed and Maggie Thatcher got her neck saved in the UK elections. The UK Government realised it wanted to keep thier ships, including HMS Invincible.

HMAS Melbourne meantime prepared for decommission. In May 1982 the Governor General announced the HMS Invincible would be formally renamed HMAS Australia. It was the first time since the Kent Class Heavy Cruiser HMAS Australia decommissioned in 1956 that the name had been used, and the first time since 1924 that a capital ship had used it, when the Battlecruiser HMAS Australia was scuttled to allow THE RN to comply with ITS treaty obligations.

The RAN celebrations on the news that HMS Invincible was being tranferred were tempered by the realisation that it could not operate Skyhawks or Trackers. That and the fact the Government had not announced any plans to purchase Sea Harriers or additional Sea Kings to be operated by them. However, hopes were high that in light of the Falkland War experience the announcement of orders would soon follow.

Not only were the RNs carriers and Harriers vital to their success, but Argentina's elderly carrier ARA 25 de Mayo, HMAS Melbournes sister ship, had essentially broken down at the hour she was due to launch an airstrike of Skyhawks against the RN Task Force, before limping home.

On schedule on 30 June 1982 HMAS Melbourne paid off to Reserve, after having flown off her last aircraft and helecopters. In coming months she was de-stored and stripped of useful equipment.

At the conclusion of the Falklands war the UK MOD approached the Aus DoD and explained thier desire to retain all three Invincible class carriers. They "asked" and we "agreed" to cancel the transfer.

In exchange, the UK offerred the RAN the veteran HMS Hermes on favourable loan terms, until a new Invincible class Carrier could be built to order and delivered sometime around 1987-89. The Fraser Government decided to examine the offer against starting back up negotiations with the US shipyard for a modified Iwo Jima class ship.

It was decided that the condition of HMAS Melbourne in decommission was now too far gone to bring her back, espcially given Argentina's experience, and the likelyhood that the UK offer might be accepted for the immediate transfer of HMS Hermes.

Yet more problems arose when the Fraser Liberal Government decided to go to the polls on 5 March 1983, and deferred an announcement on the HMAS Melbournes replacement until after the election.

Next; Disaster and a Helecopter Wing in everything but name.



posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 09:10 PM
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Originally posted by LordGoofus
See the thing with the Australian defence forces (or at least up untill the iraq screwup) is that their main purpose was for peacekeeping and some covert / behind the line ground based operations. As such our main requirement is highly trained soldiers, and not so much air force or navy. To my limited knowledge that's always how Australia has worked. We're a "grunt" based military, not air or naval.

So there really isn't a need for a huge big warship / aircraft carrier... although it would be amusing to pull up next to an illegal fishing boat in a "floating fortress".

Are you feeling lucky, punk?


I think you'll find that there are a similar amount of personal on all 3 services. We aren't a 'grunt' based military. You may think this as the other 2 services haven't seen mmuch action lately.

Australia just can't afford to buy and maintain carriers it's simple as that. We definately wouldn't buy Brit carriers with outdated harriers.



posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 11:19 PM
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geeeeeez...craigandrew

No typing books allowed!


I dont really see the need for Australia to get some Aircraft Carriers unless its for defensive purposes. I'm not saying that I dont want them to have that kind of offensive capablitily, I could care less since their our allies. But the US has enough of them to take on any current threats in the world.

[edit on 5-10-2004 by Murcielago]



posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 11:40 PM
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On 5 March 1983 The Fraser Liberal Government was defeated in national elections. The ALP, under the leadership of Prime Minister Bob Hawke, back in office.

On 14 March, nine days later, the new Labour Defence Minister, Mr Scholes dropped a bombshell. They had cancelled plans to purchase a replacement carrier for the RAN, and would examine the future of the Fleet Air Arm and it's fixed wing operations. He felt the need in his statement to remind RAN personnel that they had a reputation for professionalism, and ask such the Government expected the decision to be accepted by the RAN without comment or complaint (at least publically)....Creep!

The RN was advised that the offer of the HMS Hermes was no longer required or desired by the Australian government.

Amongst the grounds given for the the decision was it was not in the ALPs budget program to allow for the cost of an carrier (or fixed wing aircraft...thier minds were already made up despite comments about the review process.) The ALP advice (theres always advice) was that the RAN & Other services had or was acquirring equipment which would supplant the carriers role in the RAN.

For example, Air Defence could be given by the Adams class DDGs and incoming FFGs, despite the fact the Skyhawks had a AD ability beyond that range with AIM-9 Sidewinders. Likewise Harpoons coming into service, launched from the FFGs and Oberon SSK would give "stand off" defence against surface targets, despite the longer reach of the Skyhawks with ASMs (and Substitute Skyhawk with Sea Harrier or Harrier IIs).

Whether they mistook a 15kn LSH with one helo lifting 250 troops/evacuees as an improvement over the ability to steam at 26 knots with 20-30 helos and berths for 800 or more bodies was never looked at.

At any rate the carrier role was surplus to and beyond the requirements of the RAN.

The decision was then made to discard the fixed wing of the RAN. The surviving ten A-4s and sixteen S-2Gs were to be grounded and if possible sold off. The Macchis and HS.748s would be transferred to the RAAF which already operated both types.

An argument for the retention of all aircraft was made by elements of the RAN. The Navy had a requirement for Fleet Co-Operation training duties that the RAAF was often relucant to supply. The RAN was using the Skyhawks and Macchis in this role,and wanted to continue to do so. Likewise the 2 HS748s were fitted with naval EW equipment for simulated jammer attacks on the fleet. It was suggested the RAN could supplement the hard pressed P-3C Orion force flying out of RAAF Endinburgh in South Australia by flying the lower priority fisheries and inshore patrols around the countries coastline.

The argument did not carry the day. The government did not buy the case for retention. It gave the job of inshore patrols to a contract operator under the banner Coastwatch. It had the assurance of the RAAF that it would "fit in" the RAN requirements with thier own.

By May 1985 the RANs Skyhawks and Trackers were grounded, bar 4 Skyhawks used for target towing duties. The Macchis went to the RAAF, and the HS.748 stayed with the RAN (at least until the early 90s)

All the Skyhawks were sold to NZ to be upgraded with the original RNZAF A-4s to Kau standard. Suitable buyers for the Trackers couldnt be found and they were eventually scrapped (bar two for the RAN Museum).

In the same period the last Wessex were retired, along with the UH-1s, while the Kiowas were tranferred to the Army who operated the 40 survivors of 50 built locally in the 1970s.

In return the Government ordered 16 S-70B Sea Hawks to join 6 Aerospatiale Squirrel light helecopters ordered in 1983. The S-70s were to provide helos for the six FFGs. The Sea Kings operated from shore or the HMA Ships Stalwart (retired late 80s), Tobruk or the new AOR HMAS Success. The Squirrels did work ups with the FFGs until 1990 when the S-70s were delivered, and from the HMAS Moresby (survey ship) and from shore bases. They were joined by the survivors of 18 Squirrels operated by the Army in the late 90s.

Next; We decend into a rambling rant



posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 11:43 PM
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What Happened next?

The RAAF failed to meet Fleet Support requirements. Even with the lease of biz jets target support was way off. Ironically the Australian ALP Government was forced to make a deal with the NZ government whereby we leased one of thier two RNZAF Skyhawk squadrons, complete with pilots, ground staff and equipment. They were based at NAS Albatross. Some of the aircraft were former RAN machines! The deal stood until NZ disbanded thier combat air arm in 2000.

A couple of years later the Coastwatch services were in disarray after the ALP Government sought to give the contract to a lower bidding agent. Despite the fact the original operators had the backup of thier regional airline, they awarded the work to an individual who had never operated an aviation business before, and who had no aircraft, support equipment and personnel. They got the operation together but it collapsed. The original contractor was waiting in the wings for it to happen, with a big compensation bill to tack onto thier original price.

At the time the Navy was getting the go over an unrelated idiot decision was being made. The ALP had just ordered 39 S-70A Black Hawks. Up until then the RAAF had operated the tactical lift helos (UH-1s and CH-47Cs) while the Army operated the Kiowas, Nomads and Turbo Porters.
The smart decision was that the Black Hawks and UH-1s were transfered to the Army in 1989 as the Black Hawks came in. The stupid decision was that the Chinooks were surplus to requirements and the RAAF squadron operating them No.12 dispanded. The Chinooks were stored pending sale.
It was anticipated that Black Hawks which "could be regularly operated with long range tanks" would also be able to undertake the support role of Chinooks in addition to their intended assault role. The Blackhawk fleet began to suffer from above average breakdowns and fatigue. Most of the fleet were grounded for weeks on end. A report found that they were being overworked and overloaded, and that they were unable to undertake some key roles of the CH-47. The ALP Government were forced to make a deal with Boeing in the early nineties to take the 11 "C" model machines, and receive back only four upgraded "D" models (nos 5 and 6 were ordered by the new Liberal Government when the ALP were finally defeated in a landslide election in 1995)



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